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Dominating First Page Google Results

From its earliest days, Google’s core search algorithm offered the most relevant and most organic search results quickly and accurately on a simple site with an iconic logo that has now become synonymous with the search giant’s business. Searching amidst the world’s vast data, Google cleverly cataloged and categorized pages using its Page Rank formula, which assessed the quantity and power of links to any given webpage.

For a few years, Google’s search worked seamlessly, repeatedly predicting the most relevant search results every single time, again and again. In fact, it was so good that it sent shockwaves through the internet, digitally obliterating its rivals over time. However, as Google’s clever search engine grew into a colossus corporation, and both individuals and businesses realized the inherent power of appearing organically at the top of any search, things began to change.

The changes occurred at the behest of some unscrupulous characters who were hell-bent on gaming the system. With so much money at stake, do you really blame them? Once they learned the majority of the rules, they began poking and prodding Google’s innards by building massive link farms and content farms, spinning low-quality articles, and auto-generating links in an effort to outgun other listings and secure the top spots on Google’s lucrative Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

As a result, Google introduced several now-infamous adjustments to its algorithm that went by the names of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, just to name a few. As the less-than-savory characters began dominating Google’s search by supposedly gaming the system, Google had to act or risk losing its relevancy. These algorithm adjustments were intended to both weed out the spoofs and scammers, while also fine-tuning its semantic search.

The Fundamental Components Of Search

Before we dive into some of the crucial rules for succeeding in SEO, we need to take a closer look at the fundamentals of Google’s search engine. The truth? Most people look at SEO the wrong way. They look at ways to do the least amount of work for the greatest initial return, when in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Obviously SEO is one of the best skills that you can possibly learn, but in order to succeed with it, you need to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. It’s a slow, steady and painful process, but that’s also the nature of the beast.

Simply put, in the beginning, Google doesn’t trust you. If Google doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to rank on those lucrative first-page SERPs. You’ll be lost in the fray amidst millions of others who’re trying to claw their way to the top. So, the first real guiding principle of SEO is trust. When you have Google’s trust, you’ll consistently rank highly. When you lack its trust, you’ll be lost in an abysmal sea of low-ranking webpages. And no one wants that.

Trust Component #1: Indexed Age

Google cares deeply about the indexed age of both your site and its content. A brand new site that’s a newcomer to Google is going to have a far harder time ranking on its SERPs than a site that has indexed age. Indexed age refers to the date that Google discovered the domain or webpage in question, not when it was originally registered or released.

Trust Component #2: Authority Profile

Google wants to see a healthy link profile that signifies authority. This means quality links coming from quality content across the web with a healthy diversity. It cares about the importance of the sites that are linking to your domain, but also the quality of the content those links are coming from. Further, it’s looking for IP-diverse links, meaning they shouldn’t all be coming from the same source. And it’s looking for a healthy link velocity where high-quality links are being created with increased frequency over time.

Trust Component #3: Underlying Content

The underlying content is extremely important. Too many people skimp on content, but it’s one of the major anchors that tether you to Google’s relevancy algorithms. Thin content with errors, or duplicate content and spun content can really hurt you. Instead, the content not only has to be lengthy, but it has to be well-written, keyword centric and highly engaging where readers are spending a good amount of time digesting and consuming that content.

Google Ranking Factors – Ultimate SEO Checklist for 2017

Like everyone else, you’re likely wondering how you can appear relevantly and organically on Google’s SERPs. Well, whether you’re doing SEO in 2017 or any other year, it’s important to pay homage to the components of trust. But, there are in fact 200+ factors that attribute to your rank in Google’s current algorithm.

Dominated by the Domain

Myth of the Aging Domain

Google engineer, Matt Cutts claims that in Google algorithm domain age is an insignificant factor. Good content matters more than the domain age in the long run.

Usage of Keywords in Domain

Having keywords in the domain is a relevant signal where the keywords appearing in the content, albeit well incorporated, positively affect the search results.

Use Keyword as First Word of Domain

Get the extra edge over others by starting the domain name with the targeted keyword! This is a crucial and an indisputable keyword ranking factor that can boost your site’s ranking on the search engines.

Domain Registration Length

Google’s Matt Cutts said, “To the best of my knowledge, no search engine has ever confirmed that they use length of registration as a factor in scoring. If a company is asserting that as a fact, that would be troubling. The primary reason to renew a domain would be if it’s your main domain, you plan to keep it for a while, or you’d prefer the convenience of renewing so that you don’t need to stress about your domain expiring.”

On-page Optimization

Keywords in Title

Keeping the keywords in the title is a smart move, if you are looking for ranking. This can be a strong On Page SEO signal to boost page ranking.

Title Tag Starting with Keyword

According to Moz data and Backlinko, title tags having keywords at the beginning perform much better than when the keywords are used at the end of the title tag.

Keywords in Description

Using keywords in descriptions is quite relevant and does make a difference, although it isn’t hugely important.

Keyword in H1 Tag

H1 tags are the “second title tag” of Google and by incorporating the right keyword in the H1 Tag, the Google SEO rankings get a boost.

Frequently Used Keyword in Phrase Document

Using keywords in content frequently can boost up SEO rankings. However, it is advisable not to go overboard, as it may adversely affect the write-up and the ranking may suffer.

Length of Content

Longer content is more preferred than the shorter ones. SERPIQ found that the content length correlates with the SERP position.

Keyword Density Factor

Keyword density is a factor which Google uses to determine the topic of a web page. Excessive use of keywords can have negative effects on SEO ranking.

LSI Keywords in Content

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in content extract meaning from words with more than one meaning. This enables writers to come up with quality content. LSI keywords help web spiders to understand the topic better.

LSI Keywords in Title and Meta Description

Using keywords in meta descriptions and title helps Google discern between synonyms and this in turn increases SEO rankings.

Duplicate Content

Say no to duplicate content, even if it’s slightly modified, as it can negatively influence search results.

Page Loading Scheme with HTML

Page code and file size affect the speed of the loading page. The search engines take into account the page loading speed as one of the factors which affects ranking. A page that takes more time to load is not preferred by Google.

Page Loading Scheme via Chrome

Google at times uses Chrome user data to handle the page loading time better as it takes into consideration the speed of the account server, CND usage and other signals that are not related to HTML.

Canonical = Rel

Using the tag in proper fashion prevents Google from considering pages with similar and duplicate content.

Optimization of Images

Optimization of images with file name, ALT text, title, description and caption are crucial for ranking in search engines.

Regular and Recent Updated Content

Updated content is crucial for time-sensitive searches. Google shows the date of a page’s last update. Fresh content is appreciated more by search engines!

Magnitude of Content Updates

Adding fresh updates and removing insignificant sections are more important than spinning around a few words. Freshness factor depends on the quality of the changes made!

Historical and Page Updates

Adding new content to a page adds freshness to your website. Make sure the updates are frequent enough, as and when needed. This is another technique used to boost rankings.

Prominence of Keywords

Make the keywords stand out by putting them in the first 100-words of a page’s content. It’s a significant relevancy signal.

Keywords in H2 and H3 Tags

Making the keyword appear in the subheadings, in H2 or H3 format, is another relevant factor for SEO rankings.

Order of Keywords

Keyword research is really important and keeping the keyword phrase in the same order in the content promises better ranking.

Outbound for Link Theme

Experts says that search engines use the content of the pages you link, as a relevancy signal. If you have a page related to mobile devices that links to movie-pages, then this may tell Google that your page is about movie cars, not the automobile.

Grammar and Spelling Check

Proper grammar and correct spelling are a measure of quality, but Matt Cutts never clearly stated if that counts for Google ranking.

Syndicated Content

Original content is crucial. Spinning of content will not get good rankings and Google may penalize the blog or website for such low-quality content.

Supplementary Content that Helps

As per Google rater guidelines document, helpful supplementary content indicates the quality of the page and its ranking in Google. The supplementary contents are currency converters, loan interest calculators and investment recipes.

Multimedia with Content

Images, videos and other forms of multimedia enriches the quality of the content.

Number of Outbound Links

Excess do-follow outbound links leak page ranks and negatively affects the ranking.

The Number of Internal Links on a Page

The number of internal links to a page tells about its relevancy to other pages on the site. This is a true statement and helps in SEO ranking.

Quality of Internal Links of the Page

Getting internal links from authoritative pages on domain have stronger effects and impact than from pages with no or low PR.

Readability Score

Make sure the content is user-friendly. Visitors prefer to read simple language and Google boosts the site that can engage the readers to keep them hooked on the site longer.

Links that are Affiliated

“Affiliated links” do not affect SEO rankings directly. When there is an excess of affiliated links, Google algorithm looks deeper into other quality signals on the site, to judge whether or not, it’s a “thin affiliated site.”

HTML Errors

Sloppy coding and HTML errors are signs of poor quality site and many SEO experts have the opinion that it’s a major sign of weakness.

Domain Authority for Page Hosts

All things being equal, a page of an authoritative domain will be much higher on the search results than a page on a domain with lesser authority.

Page Rank of the Page

Earlier, higher PR pages rank better than low PR ones. Google has now stopped updating Page Rank, so it does not hold much significance, at present.

URL Length

Long URLs adversely affect search visibility. As small URLs are easier to recall than the longer ones, using small and sweet URLS for targeted audience is a better option.

URL Path

The page that is closer to the homepage gets a boost in search engine ranking.

Human Editing

Google filed a patent for a system that allows human editors to influence the SERPs. However, this thing does not have any confirmation yet.

Page Category Matters

The category of the page matters a lot, if you are talking about search engine rankings. The page which is closely related to the searched category gets ranked better than the one that’s unrelated or less related to the searched option.

WordPress Tags

WordPress specific tags boost SEO. The only way it improves your SEO is by relating one piece of content to another, and more specifically a group of posts to each other.

Keyword Usage in URL

Using the keyword in the url is useful and is one of the most important relevancy signals.

URL Strings

Google actually reads the categories in the URL string, providing a thematic signal of what the page is about.

Sitting References and Source Links

Quality content is judged by the source links and references provided at the end of the article. Google Quality Guidelines adhere to the fact that reviewers need to keep an eye on the sources when looking at certain pages. However, Google denies using such external links to help in SEO ranking.

Bulleted Pointers

Bulleted and numbered pointers make the content easier to read and Google prefers such writing.

Page Priority in Sitemap

Priority of a page is given via sitemap.xml file that may influence ranking to a certain extent.

Excess Outbound Links

Too many outbound links can adversely affect readability.

The aforementioned quality rater document says, “Some pages have way too many links, obscuring the page and distracting from the main content.”

Page Age

Fresh content is definitely favored by Google, but an older page with fresh updates on a regular basis outranks a new page by far.

Quantity of Other Keywords for Page Ranks

If the page ranks high for some alternative competitive keywords, then Google gets a signal of quality. This is again responsible for a boost in SEO rankings.

User Friendly Layouts

The main content is immediately visible if the page layout is user-friendly and navigable. This helps the visitors stay on your website for a longer duration, thus enhancing the ranking of the site.

Parked Domains

On December 2011, Google made an update and decreased search visibility of the parked domains.

Helpful Content

Google is very sharp and Backlinko reader Jared Carrizales says it can distinguish easily between “quality content” and “useful content”.

Site Level Factors (Get your site ranking)

Quality-rich, Unique Content

Google will ignore the site which lacks value and informative content. Content needs to be unique and bring in a certain degree of freshness and newness.

The Most Important Page – Contact Us

The contact information should be well stated if you desire your website to be Google’s favorite child. If the contact information matches whois info it is an added advantage.

Domain Trust

S is measured by the number of links your site is away from highly trusted seed sites. This is of immense importance when it comes to SEO ranking.

Website Architecture

A pleasing and well put-together site architecture enables Google to thematically organize the content. This in turn helps in Google ranking.

Website Updates

Add freshness to your website with the addition of fresh, new content. Updating your website is an added boon.

Limiting the Number of Pages

The more pages your website has, it’s navigability decreases and this weakens the site, to a great extent. Reduce the number of pages and increase its navigability.

Importance of Sitemap

With a sitemap, the search engines index the pages easily and improves visibility of the website.

Site Uptime

If the website takes too long to upload, then site maintenance suffers which in turn affects the SEO ranking negatively.

Location of Server

The server location is crucial as it influences the ranking of the site in different locations. Special importance is given to geographical searches.

The SSL Certificate

Google confirms that they index SSL certificates and also that the use of HTTPS helps the website to rank better

Service Terms and Privacy Pages

WebPages like service terms and privacy pages indicates Google whether or not a site is trustworthy for the internet.

Duplicate On-site Meta Information

If the information of your site is duplicate, then it brings down the visibility of the website.

The Breadcrumb Navigation

“Breadcrumb navigation” is a style of user-friendly site-architecture and helps users and search engines to know where they are on the website. This is another ranking factor.

Mobile Optimization

Google definitely has a thing for mobile friendly sites! The websites which are not mobile friendly may get penalized. So, it’s time you opt for the responsive web design!


Desire to top Google ranking, then go for the YouTube videos and enjoy the preferential treatment. This is because YouTube videos get a preferential treatment in SERP.

Site Usability

A website, which can neither be used well or navigated properly enough, is surely going to lower SEO ranking in Google. If site usability is poor with reduced time spent on site and higher bounce rate, then chances are that Google will not prefer it at all.

Usage of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

Google analytics and webmaster tools are highly recommended for installation to improve SEO page ranking.

Reviews and Feedback

If your site is positively reviewed in Yelp or Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers., then it can most certainly help a great deal in Google ranking.

Backlink to Boost SEO Ranking

Backlinks from Aged Domains

Did you know that using backlinks from aged domains are more powerful than links obtained from the newer ones? Yes, this is a tried, tested and proved.

Linking Root Domains

The number of referring domains is a crucial factor in Google algorithm. This concept is supported by Moz.

Linking from Separate C-Class IPs

Links that are separated from class-c IP addresses suggests that a wider breadth of sites get linked to you. This factor surely has an effect on SEO ranking.

Page Links

Linking pages can boost search engine ranking, even if it’s from the same domain.

Image Links

Use ALT tag for image links. Alt text is an image version of the anchor text.

Use Links from .edu or .gov Domains

Google engineer, Matt Cutts states that although this factor is not so important, but it does count for boosting SEO rankings a notch higher.

Page Authority

The higher the page rank with high authority links, the greater are the chances of the webpage ranking well in Google.

Domain Authority

Authority of linking domains or in other words, domain authority is an important SEO ranking factor.

Get your Competitors’ Links

Links from other pages ranking in the same SERP are considered valuable for ranking a page with that particular keyword.

Social Shares for Related Pages

Opt for social media and get your pages linked for having a positive influence in SEO rankings.

Links from Bad Neighbors

Stop the black hat SEO tricks, as the links from the bad neighbors can do more harm than good.

Guest Posting

Guest posts are a great way to boost rankings in search engine, but contextual links are far more valuable than the ones coming from the author bio area.

Linking to a Domain Homepage that Page Sits On

Linking to a referral page’s homepage plays a crucial role in evaluating the site’s and link’s weight age.

The List of Don’ts for Link Building

One of the most controversial SEO topics. Google, however claims that they do not generally follow it, but at times they do.

Diversity in Link Types

If a large percentage of the links come from a single source, it’s a web spam. However, links from diverse sources is the sign of a natural link profile.

Sponsored Links or Other Words Around the Link

Certain words like, “sponsored links”, “link partners” and other words like “sponsors” can decrease the value of a link significantly.

The Powerful Contextual Links

Contextual links inside the page content are definitely deemed as more relevant than links found somewhere else.

Excessive 301 Redirecting to the Page

According to Webmaster Help Video, links coming from 301 redirects and dilutes some or even all to PR.

The Backlink of Anchor Text

Anchor texts are not all that important and more likely a web spam signal, but still backlinks of anchor texts acts as a relevancy signal.

“Internal Link Anchor Text”

The internal link anchor text is another relevant thing in SEO. However, in terms of importance it is weighed differently from back link anchor text.

Attribution of Link Title

The link title, that is, the text which appears when you linger around a link, is another relevancy signal, although not that effective.

The Country TLD for Referring Domain

Links from country specific top-level domain extension help the website rank better in that particular country.

Content Link Location

The links used in the beginning of a content is more relevant than the links placed at the end of the content.

Page Link Location

The place where the links appear on a page is important. Links which are embedded in a page’s content are more powerful than those placed in the footer or sidebar area.

Linking Domain Relevancy

An effective SEO strategy always focuses on obtaining relevant links. So, a link from a similar site is more powerful than the link from a completely unrelated one.

Page Level Relevancy

Another factor is that a link from a page that’s closely tied to the content of the page is more powerful than a link from an unrelated page.

Text Around Link

Google understands that a link on your site can be a sign of positive recommendation for your site or a negative review. Thus, links with positive recommendations and referrals tend to carry more weight and are more preferable.

Keyword Used in Title

Use the keyword in title of an article and Google is going to prefer your links better.

Positive Link Velocity

A site with positive link velocity gets a SERP boost. When your site is being talked about well, Google likes it too!

Negative Link Velocity

Negative link velocity is a sign of decreasing popularity and can affect the site’s ranking.

“Hub” Page Links

According to Aaron Wall, links from pages that are considered top resources or hubs on a certain topic get special treatment.

Links from Authority Sites

A link that comes from a site is considered an “authority site” and is more valuable in SEO ranking than the link from a small microniche site.

Links used as Wikipedia Source

Although the links are not to be used, but many are of the opinion that if a link is added to Wikipedia it renders added trust and authority in the eyes of the search engines.

Backlink Age

Backlink age is important. The older backlinks are more powerful than the newly minted ones.


The words that appear around backlinks are more important, as they tell Google what the page is actually about, thus helping in search engine rankings.

Real site link VS Splogs

Google gives more weight to links which are coming from “real sites”. Using brands and user-interaction signals distinguish the real site links from the fake ones.

Reciprocal Links

According to Google Link Scheme, “excessive link exchanging” is a thing that needs to be avoided.

Natural Link Profile

Natural link profile not only ranks well in search engines, but are also more durable to updates.

Content Links – User Generated

Google is smart enough to identify links coming from UGC vs. the actual site owner. This acts as a deciding factor, when it comes to Google ranking.

119. Links from 301

The links from 301 redirects loses a bit of its credibility, when it gets compared to a direct link. Matt Cutts, however differs and says that 301 is similar to a direct link.

.org Micro formats

The pages which support micro formats rank above pages which do not. This is a direct boost and pages with micro formatting have a higher SERP CTR.

DMOZ Listed

DMOZ listed sites does get an extra preference from Google, thus helping in SEO ranking.

The Trust Rank of Linking Site

The trustworthiness of the site which links you, actually determines how much “Trust Rank” is passed on.

The Number of Outbound Links on Page

PageRank is finite and a link on a page with hundreds of OBLs passes less PR than the page with only a few OBLs.

Profile Links in Forum

Google may actually devalue links from forum profiles. This can happen due to industrial level spamming.

Word Count in Linking Content

The link from long articles with higher word count is more valuable than the link inside a short snippet.

The Quality of Linking Content

Poorly written or spun content links are not considered that good, when compared to well-written, multi-media enhanced content.

Site wide Links

Site wide links are compressed enough to be counted as single links. This statement has been confirmed by Matt Cutts.

Google User Interaction Factors

The Organic CTR for a Keyword

Pages that are clicked more are judged by CTR (click through rate). Higher CTR gets a SERP boost for that particular keyword.

The Organic CTR for all Keywords

A website’s or webpage’s organic CTR for all keywords are ranks that are human based and user interaction signals.

Bounce Rate

Another controversial topic, but some people say that bounce rate does matter, as Google uses the users as “quality testers” to understand the likeability of a site. If the visitors’ skip the site in seconds then the bounce rate jumps up negatively, affecting the ranking.

Direct Traffic

The news is confirmed; Google does prefer sites with lots of direct traffic as it determines the quality of the website.

Repeat Traffic

Google notices whether visitors go back to the same site after the first visit. Repeat traffic boosts SEO rankings significantly.

Sites that are Blocked!

“Blocked Sites”- this feature has been discontinued by Google, but Panda still uses it as a quality signal.

Chrome Bookmarks

Google collects Chrome Browser Usage Data. Pages bookmarked in Chrome get a boost in SEO ranking.

Google’s Toolbar Data

Danny Goodwin of Search Engine Watch claims that Google uses toolbar data as a ranking signal. Nevertheless, except for page loading speed and malware, it’s an unknown fact of the kind of data they glean from toolbar.

The Number of Comments

Pages with lots of comments are a signal of user-friendliness and quality.

“Dwell Time”

The time the visitor spend on your page is the “dwell time” that’s measured by Google and more the time spent, the quality of the website ranks higher.

The Algorithm Rules, You Need to Know

QDF (Query Deserves Freshness)

Newer pages and fresh content do give search engines the much desired boost.

Query Deserves Diversity

Google adds diversity to SERP for ambiguous keywords like “WWF”, “Ted” and so on.

Browsing History

Visiting sites frequently after signing in Google can get the much desired SERP bump.

Using Search History

Search chain can have an influence in search results for later searches. For example, if a visitor searches for reviews in general and then for toasters, then Google would more likely show toaster review sites higher in SERP.

Geo Targeting

Special preferences are given to sites with local server IP and country-specific domain name extension.

Google+ Circles

Authors and sites added to Google Plus Circles get an added boost in Google ranking.

DMC Complaints

Google down ranks a page with DMC Complaints, so it’s better to be aware of this.

Safety Filter (Safe Search)

Turn on the safe search and it automatically turns off any adult content or sites using curse words.

Domain Diversity

Bigfoot Update has added more domains to SERP page. It seems to effect negatively by overcrowding the place.

Transactional Searches

Google has a tendency to display different results for keywords related to shopping, like flight searches and so on.

Local Searches

Google+ local results are given preference than the “normal” organic SERPs.

Google News Box

There are certain keywords which trigger Google News Box and this factor can boost SEO ranking.

Brand Preference

Google does go out of the way and gives big brands an extra preference with short-tail keywords.

Shopping Results

Google, at times, display Google Shopping results in organic SERP.

Image Results

Organic listing for image results for searches are used on Google Image Search, which actually does affect ranking.

Easter Egg Results

Google has lots of Easter Egg Results. About dozens of Easter Egg results are there in Google. It is found that searching for “Atari Breakout” in Google image search, the search results turns into a playable game, instead! Victor Pan is the perfect man to talk about this in detail.

Social Media Signals

Number of Tweets

The number of tweets a page hascan have an influence in its ranking in Google.

Twitter Authority in User Accounts

Tweets from Twitter profiles with a huge number of followers are more influential than tweets coming from new and low influence accounts, as the number of followers matters to boost ranking.

Facebook Likes

Facebook likes are a boost, but Google can’t see them, so the ranking influence is pretty low, in this account.

Facebook Shares

Share is similar to a backlink. More than likes, Facebook shares may have a stronger influence in Google ranking.

Facebook Authority in User Accounts

Just like Twitter, Facebook likes and shares coming from popular pages have a stronger influence for better ranking.

Pinterest Pins

With lots of public data, Pinterest is insanely popular and Google too, considers this as an important social signal.

Voting for Social Sharing Sites

Social sharing sites like, Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon are other social sites which are used by Google for social signal that are responsible for affecting SEO ranking.

Number of Google+1s

Matt Cutts has clearly stated that Google+ has no direct effect on search engine rankings. However, Google ignoring their own social networking site, seems “unbelievable”.

Google+ User Accounts Authority

Google will weigh +1’s coming from authoritative accounts much more than those coming from accounts without many followers.

Known Authorship

Yes, it’s true. Google+ authorship program was shut down, but Google does at times use some form of authorship for determining good and influential content online to boost up SEO rankings.

Social Media and its Relevance

It is assumed that Google uses relevant information from the account sharing content and also the text that surrounds the link.

Website Level Social Signals

The social signals of the website do increase the overall authority of the site, which in turn can positively affect the search visibility for all its pages.

The Big Brand Names – A Relevancy Signal

Brand Name in Anchor Text

The branded anchor text may look simple, but it is in fact a strong brand signal which cannot be ignored.

Branded Search

Some people do search for brands only along with the keyword and Google directly takes them to the site.

Website Having Facebook Pages and Likes

Brands with Facebook pages do have a lot of likes and shares that boost brand identity.

Websites Having Twitter Profile with Followers

Twitter profiles with a lot of followers actually boost brand popularity and positively affect search engines.

The LinkedIn Company Page

Real businesses have company pages in LinkedIn.

Employees Listed in LinkedIn

Individual LinkedIn profile claiming to work for your company boosts its brand value.

Social Media Accounts and its Legitimacy

Social media accounts with numerous followers, but two posts are treated differently than accounts with the same number of followers with lots of interaction.

Brand Name in New Site

It is a known fact that big brands get mentioned on Google News sites all the time and at times the brands have their own Google News Feed on the first page. This effectively boosts SEO rankings.


Brands at times get mentioned without getting linked and Google looks at non-hyperlinked brand mentions as a brand signal for boosting SEO ranking.

RSS Subscribers

Google owns the popular Feedburner RSS service and therefore, the RSS Subscriber data is a popular brand signal.

Office Location with Google+ Local Listing

Real businesses have offices and Google checks the location data to determine whether or not the site is a big brand to reckon.

Website also, is Tax-Paying Business

According to Moz report, Google does take in note whether the website is a tax paying business and this does count as a relevancy brand signal.

WebSpam Factors – On-site

The Panda Penalty

Sites with low quality content are less visible to search engines as Google prefers quality content. Such sites with poor content are hit by Panda penalty.

Linking to Bad Neighbors

Linking to bad neighbors like loan sites or pharmacy websites can hit and hurt search visibility.


Beware of sneaky redirects. It is a big “no”. If your website gets caught, then it is not only penalized but de-indexed too!

Popups and other ads

Google Rater Guidelines Document is against popups and other advertisements which are distracting. This is a sign of a low-quality site and thus, negatively affects Google ranking.

Over Optimization of Site

Factors like keyword stuffing, header tag stuffing and excessive keyword decoration leads to site over-optimization and can negatively affect ranking.

Page Over-Optimization

Page over-optimization is not good as Penguin targets individual pages, even if that is just for the usage of certain keywords.

Advertisements Above the Fold

Did you know, “The Page Layout Algorithm” penalizes sites with ads and not much content above the fold? This is a factor that can affect SEO ranking.

Affiliated Sites

Google does not prefer affiliated sites and the sites which monetarize with affiliated links are under extra scrutiny by Google.

Hiding Affiliate Links

If you go too far to hide affiliated links with cloaking, then it may attract penalty.

Auto-generated Content

Google just hates “autogenerated content”. If they just suspect a site generating computer-generated content, then it gets penalized or even de-indexed.

Excess of Page Rank Sculpting

Going far with PageRank sculpting by not following outbound links or internal links is a sign of gaming the system and certainly not recommended if you are looking to boost page ranking.

IP Address Spam

If the server’s IP address is flagged for spamming, then this may actually hurt all the other sites on the server.

Meta Tag Spamming

Keyword stuffing can happen in meta tags. However, Google may take this addition of keywords to meta tags as gaming the algorithm, which may hit the site with a penalty.

Off-Page Web Spamming

Influx of Phony Links

Sudden and unnatural link influx is a sure-shot sign of phony links. Best avoided!

Penguin Penalty

Sites which have been penalized by Google Penguin are less visible in search.

Link Profile with Highest Number of Low-Quality Links

Links which are derived from sources of black hat SEO like blog comments and forum profiles are low quality links. This is a sign of gaming the system and can have a negative effect on ranking.

Linking Domain Relevancy

Analysis from Microsite Masters Rank Tracker says that sites with an unnaturally high amount of links from unrelated sites are more susceptible to Penguin Penalty.

Unnatural Links (A Warning)

Thousands of “Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links” messages are sent out by Google, that results a ranking drop. This can at times be quite significant.

Links from same class C IP

An unnatural amount of links from sites on the same server IP is a sign of blog network link building. Ranking may suffer for this.

Manual Penalty

Manual Penalty also exists and Google is well known for the Interflora fiasco.

Poison Anchor Text

A poison anchor text specially pharmacy keywords is a sign of spamming or a hacked site. This can actually poison and hurt the site’s ranking.

Selling Links

Link selling can hurt search visibility by impacting toolbar PageRank.

Google Sandbox

Well, new sites that get a sudden influx of links are put into the “Google Sandbox”, which can temporarily limit search visibility.

Disavow Tool

A highly useful tool, it can remove any manual or algorithm penalty for sites that have been a victim of a very negative SEO.

Google Dance

Google Dance can shake up the rankings and Google Patent says that this is a way for determining whether the site is trying to game the algorithm or not.

Reconsideration Request

Did your site suffer a penalty? Then a reconsideration request can lift you the penalty and make your site get going.

Temporary Link Schemes – A Big “NO”

Never go for temporary link schemes. Google seems to have caught people who create and quickly remove such spammy and temporary links.

On a more general note, there are some rules you should be following.

The following rules will help you to dominate SEO in 2017. And no matter what Google changes moving forward, these rules will still provide the bedrock that you should govern your online activities around in order to make the greatest progress on those all-important SERPs. Follow these rules and you’ll find yourself inching closer and closer to SEO domination on Google. Just remember that it won’t happen overnight. It’ll take time.

Rule #1 — Always Work To Gain Google’s Trust

If you want to succeed in SEO, you need Google’s trust. This has been true for years now, but too many people overlook this guiding principle. However, the question then becomes, how do you get Google to trust you? Clearly, it isn’t easy. Let’s think about any relationship here for a moment. How does anyone trust anyone else in this world?

There are plenty of dimensions to Google’s trust, but to take a real-world scenario for a moment, let’s briefly look at the plight of a new business that opens up shop. Let’s just say for a moment that this new business needs working capital, and the founder walks into a bank for a meeting with the bank manager.

Being a new business, this company will naturally face some bias. How can they expect the bank to give them a loan for their business when they have no track record? This is somewhat of a Catch-22, isn’t it? In order to start and grow the business, it needs capital, but in order to get that capital, it needs to have been in business for quite some time, with a proven track record.

This is the same dilemma that will face any newly-formed website or domain on the internet. If Google just found out about you, no matter when you first registered that domain name, it’s going to look at you with suspect. It won’t trust you, thus, you won’t rank high, no matter what strategy you attempt to implement.

This is the greatest barrier to entry in SEO that possibly exists, but there’s a method to the search engine’s madness, and much of it has to do with those unsavory characters who were so hell-bent on bending the rules. Today, Google knows about all your schemes, so don’t even bother with them if you’re looking to build its trust.

Rule #2 — Age Always Comes Before Beauty

Your website’s age if more important than its beauty. No matter how good your site looks, what Google is really looking for is link-consistency over time. How much time? We’re talking years here. Even if you have a healthy link profile and your site looks amazing, loads quickly and is easy to navigate, it will fall short without age.

What do I mean really when I talk about age? I’m talking about the indexed age of your site, its content and the links that are pointing to it. It’s an amalgamation of all these factors that relate to age. What’s the velocity of links being created over time? How much high-quality content is linking to your site and on what schedule?

Whether you’re just learning SEO in 2017, or any other year for that matter, what’s important to keep in mind is that Google’s algorithms are always logging, analyzing and judging any behavior related to your site, its links, content and so on. If you do a lot of work for a month or two then completely abandon your site, you won’t help your efforts, you’ll hinder them.

This has to do with both the freshness of content, and the indexed age of the site. If Google only recently found out about your site within the last 2 years, but you haven’t developed a healthy link profile, you still won’t have Google’s trust. Remember, trust is the first rule. But building trust comes through age.

Think about one of your oldest friends whom you’ve known for over ten years now and that you trust with your life. Did you trust that person on the day you met them? How about a few months after? What about a year after that? Trust develops slowly and it comes through age. Keep that in mind and don’t get discouraged in the short term.

Rule #3 — Quality Will Trump Quantity Every Single Time

When it comes to doing anything on the Web, one of the steadfast rules is that quality trumps quantity every single time. Don’t focus on doing something so many times, rather focus on doing it the right way enough times. For example, don’t worry so much about pushing out a certain amount of content every single day; worry about pushing out good content every single week. That’s what Google cares about — quality.

When it launched its Panda algorithm, Google was really going after quality through the user experience. Most importantly, it was looking for poor quality user experiences, or sites that were simply meant to garner traffic and then deceitfully push visitors through some means to buy a product or a service through an affiliate link, or to bombard them with advertisements.

Google wasn’t too happy about that. It wasn’t happy about it then, and it certainly won’t be happy about it in 2017 and beyond. In fact, as the web ages, it’s Google’s aim to increase the overall quality of not just its search engine, but of all the information on the web. It’s cleverly devised these rules and ranking factors to ensure that quality increases over time rather than decreases.

No matter what type of SEO strategy you want to employ, no matter what type of link-building efforts you’re looking to engage in, ensure that it’s about the quality not the quantity. Don’t use link-generating software, article spinners, or anything else like that if you’re serious about achieving any respectable rank on Google’s SERPs. Put in the work and put in the time, elevating quality over quantity.

Rule #4 — Content Will Always Be King

The underlying content of a site will always be king. If the content falls short, so will the SERP rankings. Google’s aim to deliver the most relevant results in the quickest manner possible has much to do with delivering the best possible content. If the content is no good, how can it be relevant?

Keep in mind that most people have now automatically become reliant on Google, knowing that the first result will likely be the best result. In turn, everyone wants that top spot, but you simply won’t get it if your content isn’t good enough. The truth is that great content is shared often. Everyone wants to share something that delivers real value. So put the time into the content, because that’s what counts.

Yes, other factors matter. But, without great content, you can forget about your chances to rank. I’m not just talking about creating great anchor content on your site. I’m also talking about going out there and building equally-great content that links to the great content on your site — also known as content marketing.

Clearly, in order to succeed with content marketing, you need to deliver enormous amounts of value. You need to genuinely assist people with answering a question or understanding a topic. You can’t do that if you skimp on the content. Great content can come in a number of forms, but I’m primarily speaking about written content here.

Great content, when crafted the right way, can send you skyrocketing up Google’s SERPs, but only if you stay consistent. You can’t deliver great content one week, subpar content the next week, then not deliver anything for a few weeks and expect to rank.

Rule #5 — Regardless Of What You’ve Heard, Size Really Does Matter

One of the things that Google has been battling against on the web is something called thin content. Thin content is content without much meat on the bones. Not only is it short on length, but it’s short on value because of it. You can’t expect to deliver big on value when you write a 500-word article. Even when you write an article that’s less than 1,000 words, it’s hard to compete against those who are delivering far more than that.

One specific study on Google’s rankings determined that the first page of its SERPs with the top spots were all above 2,000 words. In fact, I rank #1 for so many of the most competitive searches, and almost all of those articles are over 2,000 words. But they’re not superfluous.

The goal isn’t to simply write 2,000 words of rambling content. No, size matters, but so does the quality in that size. It needs to be well written for starters, and it can’t go off on tangents. The content has to be laser-focused. Writing substantial, laser-focused content can be difficult even for seasoned writers.

There’s an enormous difference between being a great writer and being a great SEO writer. The latter requires the former as a prerequisite, but it’s a far more developed skill. Sure your prose needs to be on point. But if you’re serious about search engine optimization in the slightest, the content also has to be specifically tailored for a given topic or keyword.

Rule #6 — Keywords, Keywords, Keywords, But Don’t Overdo It

Creating great SEO content in 2017 has so much to do with keywords, but also so little to do with them. Google wants content made for humans. But you also have to tailor the content for search engines like Google. The distinction here, however, is a very difficult one to make, and it’s very easy to cross the line.

What often ends up happening is that people overstuff keywords in an effort to rank. This triggers Google’s Penguin algorithm, which can decimate your listings on its SERPs. You don’t want that. What you want are not only exact-match keywords in your article, but also Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.

Google’s Hummingbird engine uses LSI as a way to determine the similarities between words and phrases. So, something like “best diets for losing weight quickly” would be semantically similar to “top weight loss diets that work fast.” LSI keywords are relevant and similar keywords that make the writing more organic in nature.

Your aim? Make your content keyword-centric, but don’t bombast the exact keywords over and over again. Use a healthy ratio of 70 to 80% LSI keywords to the 30 to 20% of exact match keywords. What you want is your content to sound natural and organic, and not have to force keywords. But you also want to ensure that similar phrases to your primary keyword appear enough times.

Yes, it can be difficult to do. But with practice comes perfection. With over 200+ factors involved in Google’s core algorithms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if you stick to creating amazing content that delivers enormous amounts of value, and is also lengthy enough to clearly convey the purpose or the answer to the questions that people are seeking, you’ll win the ranking game over time. Not overnight. Over time.

Rule #7 — Step Up Your Mobile Game

Today, if your site doesn’t have a mobile design and it’s extremely difficult to navigate or load the content on mobile devices, you’re essentially shooting yourself in the foot. Mobile searches are now outpacing desktop searches, and Google is furiously focused on mobile.

In fact, it’s so focused on mobile that it’s helped to launch the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project into the mainstream. What you’ll notice on most mobile devices, is a little tag that says ‘AMP’ meaning that the post adheres to the AMP specifications.

This is similar to Facebook’s push into Instant Articles. What this should all convey is the importance of a mobile-first design and to ensure that your site is responsive across a number of platforms that include desktop, tablet, and of course, mobile. Select a theme, or develop a design that will work seamlessly across any device and platform.

By building a mobile-first design, you’re looking into the future and ensuring that you’re conforming to Google’s wishes. Those wishes are steeped in reality because mobile devices have become so important in our lives, that you simply can’t overlook mobile usability when thinking about SEO, especially when talking about SEO for the future.

Rule #8 — Location, Location, Location (Of Your Links, Of Course)

In real estate, they say that it’s all about location. Well, when it comes to SEO, it’s also about location, when speaking about your links of course. You want people that are linking to you from all over the world, but you also want to ensure that relevant, high-quality content is linking to you rather than low-quality garbage.

What websites those links are coming from is extremely important. For example, a link from Forbes is far more valuable than thousands of low-quality links, especially when that link is coming from relevant content. That doesn’t mean you need a link from Forbes to excel with SEO, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to find authority domains that will link to you.

Building a healthy link profile is a difficult thing. If you focus your efforts on great content, those links will come naturally over time. It might take a very long time, but they’ll eventually come. However, you also want to help speed things up if you’re looking to make faster progress.

The number one strategy that I used to propel my site, Wanderlust Worker to number one on hundreds of the most competitive searches, was content marketing. Sure, I developed excellent anchor content on the site. But I also worked tirelessly on developing external content on authority sites that I would then link to my content, delivering enormous amounts of powerful link juice.

Focus on the content, but also focus on the links. Not low-quality links; high-quality authority links from amazing content. It’s not easy. Not by any means. If it were, everyone would be doing it. No, it’s going to be a massive headache and tremendous amounts of work, but very much well worth it when near-limitless amounts of free organic traffic come flooding into your site over time.

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